The Rhinelander High School girls' baske4tball advanced to 8-0 in the Great Northern Conference on Friday night after beating Lakeland for the second time this season. The Hodags cruised to an 81-63 win at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium led by Kenedy Van Zile, Cynthia Beavers, and Brooke Mork all recorded double digit points in the victory.
The win put Rhinelander one step closer to earning their first conference title and have a edge closing out their regular season schedule. The Thunderbirds fell to 6-2 in the GNC and still remain runner-up to RHS in the conference standings.
The Hodags used a similar style pace to defeat Lakeland, where they limited the Thunderbirds fast-breaks and forced them to score in the half court. Rhinelander also had a good balance of inside points and add nine three-pointers on the night.
Lakeland's only lead of the night came in the opening minutes where they went ahead 8-5 after Melissa Bruckner and Abby Parris had back-to-back baskets. Mork would respond with a triple to tie the game up 8-8 and started a 16-4 run for RHS who never looked back. The Hodags would take a 36-29 lead at halftime.
The Thunderbirds made a strong push early in the second half to pull within five points, but Rhinelander's offense responded and they pushed their lead to 13 points. Kenedy Van Zile hit a pair of three's on the run and Mork also added a triple while Beavers scored a few baskets inside. From there, Lakeland was never able to recover and was never able to cut the lead to single digits in the final 12 minutes.
Kenedy and Payton Van Zile both scored from beyond the arc with less than five minutes left in the game. And Beavers followed and scored six straight for Rhinelander to give RHS a 73-54 lead with two minutes left.
Lakeland senior Melissa Bruckner had the game-high of 29 points, in which she scored 20 in the first 18-minutes. Parris scored 16 for the Thunderbirds which included a late run and seven points in the final four minutes.
Kenedy Van Zile led the Hodags with 26 points and Beavers had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Mork also added 16 points as well. And Rebecca Lawrence chipped in nine points.
Rhinelander has now won seven straight and only need to win two more conference games to secure the title. RHS will be on the road Thursday against Northland Pines and will host Tomahawk on Monday night. The Hodags will also have games against Medford and Antigo as well as a non-conference game against D.C. Everest before the WIAA Regionals begin.